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When Do You Need a Tax Attorney?

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When Do You Need a Tax Attorney? Tax attorneys are lawyers who specialize in the complex and technical field of tax law. Tax attorneys are best for handling complex, technical, and legal issues.

You definitely need a tax attorney if:

  • You have a taxable estate, need to make complex estate planning strategies, or need to file an estate tax return.
  • You are starting a business and need legal counsel about the structure and tax treatment of your company.
  • You are engaging in international business and need help with contracts, tax treatment, and other legal matters.
  • You plan to bring a suit against the IRS.
  • You plan to seek independent review of your case before the US Tax Court.
  • You are under criminal investigation by the IRS.
  • You have committed tax fraud (such as claiming false deductions and credits) and need the protection of privilege.

What you should look for

Tax attorneys must have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree and must be admitted to the state bar. Those are the minimum requirements for practicing law. Additionally, tax attorneys should have advanced training in tax law. Most will have a master of laws (LL.M.) degree in taxation.

Some tax attorneys also have a background in accounting. If you are facing a complex accounting as well as legal matter, you might want to looking for an attorney who is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Questions to ask

  • Is the attorney admitted to the state bar?
  • What does the tax attorney specialize in?
  • How much does the attorney charge?
  • Can the attorney help you with your tax case?
  • If not, can the attorney refer you to another tax attorney who can help you?

Free and Low Cost Legal Assistance

Tax clinics throughout the United States provide free or low-cost legal assistance to qualifying taxpayers. Tax clinics are funded by the National Taxpayer Advocate. You can find a complete list of tax clinics in IRS Publication 4134 (PDF file, 4 pages).

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